‘Red, White and Blue’ returns Oct. 29

It’s going to take more than a pandemic to stop the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Red, White and Blue” political speaking event this year.

It’s scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Oct. 29 on the lawn of the Daviess County Courthouse.

Candance Castlen Brake, chamber president, said all candidates who will appear on ballots in Daviess County have been invited to speak.

That includes candidates for the Owensboro City Commission, mayor, district judge, the Kentucky House of Representative seats in Districts 11, 12 and 13; the 2nd District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and a U.S. Senate seat.

“We’ll have lights on the lawn this year, so we can continue after dark,” Brake said.

With 16 candidates for city commission and four for mayor, it’s going to take awhile.

Brake said chairs on the lawn will be placed six feet apart and people will be required to wear masks.

“If it’s chilly that night, the masks will help keep them warm,” she said.

The event has a long history.

It began in 1958, when the late Thomas “Red” Saltsman started a free picnic behind his restaurant in Sorgho — Red’s Place: The Fish House of the South — as a way of thanking his customers.

Soon, politicians began dropping by to work the crowd and the numbers grew.

By the late 1980s, virtually everyone running for local or state office made an appearance.

But Saltsman died in December 2006 at age 78.

For a while, it looked like the picnic would die with him.

But in August 2006, the chamber, the local Democratic and Republican parties and O’Bryan’s Bar & Grill in West Louisville hosted the newly renamed “Red, White & Blue Picnic” with a free barbecued chicken dinner and political speaking at O’Bryan’s in West Louisville.

It moved to Reid’s Orchard near Thruston in 2010.

But the event wasn’t attracting the crowds the chamber wanted, so in 2014, it moved to the courthouse lawn.

The event is sponsored by Big Rivers Electric Corp.

By: Keith Lawrence Messenger-Inquirer